Thursday, April 30, 2009

Heart of Conrad

Interesting article about Joseph Conrad
Conrad never claimed that his writings would change the nature of humankind or society. He wasn't interested either in spinning adventure stories set on the high seas, in the manner of Captain Marryat, R.M. Ballantyne, or John Masefield. Nor did he believe in the type described by Herman Melville as the "Handsome Sailor," that nautical beau ideal whom his messmates loved and admired, the ancestor of Captain Horatio Hornblower or Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey. Conrad had scant faith in the idealized man and the abstract idea, in the generalized theory. Rather, he believed in the form and substance of things; in the visible, the measurable, the job to be performed, all of it limned by that ethical cipher which flickers like a spectre in and out of the stories, the novels, the sketches.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

acer palmatum dissectum

The Japanese Threadleaf Maple (acer palmatum dissectum) is one of the most beautiful plants ever developed by humans. I never noticed these trees until I was in my early 30s - and then I noticed that they are everywhere, and rightly so.

You can see samples of the leaves above, but from a distance the tree looks like it consists of a beautifully gnarled trunk supporting puffy green or purple or red clouds. Like this:

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden, which I hope to visit soon, has a Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden with fantastic examples.

The Japanese really know how to do gardens - the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, which I visited ten years ago, is so beautiful it blew my mind.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sonnet 151-palooza

Youtube is a treasure trove... or a thrift store... or an antiques shop... or a 99c store... it contains multitudes.

There are all kinds of video recordings of people doing Shakespeare, INCLUDING 151...

An "enactment" of sorts that is bizarre and rather unsavory...

Since this year marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare's sonnets, I think there needs to be a recording of all of them - by talented, attractive actors... hmmm... I'll have to think about taking on that project...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spring fever

I think NYC has spring fever - I saw all kinds of weirdness on my commute today. Maybe the weirdest was the street guy that got on the subway and sat across from me, called me "Cinderella" and proceeded to go on about karma etc., and assured me that he was "worshipping (my) beauty" by talking to me. I thanked him and then got off at the next stop - which wasn't actually mine, but who knows what other crazy things he was gonna start saying? Crazy guys are not all that uncommon in the MTA system, of course, but usually they just tell you about Jesus, or the Illuminati, or ask for money.

Sonnets are sexy

Sonnets are sexy - says so right here.

Shakespeare = "Big Willie" hee hee!

Friday, April 24, 2009


Thou art as tyrannous, so as thou art,
As those whose beauties proudly make them cruel;
For well thou know'st to my dear doting heart
Thou art the fairest and most precious jewel.

The rest of 131

Yesterday is the date on which Shakespeare's birthday is traditionally observed...

Ooh, Sonnet Sleuth!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How to write for the American theater - a chart

See the larger version here.

Favorite part: "Do you like zombies?"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Interesting article about EA Poe

This year marks the two-hundredth anniversary of Poe’s birth and the publication of two collections of gothic tales produced by the Mystery Writers of America. “On a Raven’s Wing: New Tales in Honor of Edgar Allan Poe” (Harper; $14.99) contains stories by twenty mystery writers, including Mary Higgins Clark. “In the Shadow of the Master: Classic Tales by Edgar Allan Poe” (William Morrow; $25.99) pairs Poe’s best-known stories with modern commentaries; Stephen King muses on “The Genius of ‘The Tell-Tale Heart.’ ” There’s also a sensitive and haunting brief biography, Peter Ackroyd’s “Poe: A Life Cut Short” (Doubleday; $21.95), that offers a fitting tribute to Poe’s begin-at-the-end philosophy by opening with his horrible and mysterious death, in October of 1849. Poe, drunk and delirious, seems to have been dragged around Baltimore to cast votes, precinct after precinct, in one of that city’s infamously corrupt congressional elections, until he finally collapsed. From Ryan’s tavern, a polling place in the Fourth Ward, Poe was carried, like a corpse, to a hospital. He died four days later. He was forty years old.
More in the New Yorker

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


O, from what power hast thou this powerful might
With insufficiency my heart to sway?
To make me give the lie to my true sight,
And swear that brightness doth not grace the day?

Sonnet 150

Monday, April 20, 2009

People ain't no good

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's the Paul Krugman song!

"Timothy Geitner uses TurboTax"!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Speaking of being a cougar...

The jailbait in my MySpace mailbox...

...who sent me this message: "im 17 but i was lookin at ur pics i think u r so beautiful i hope it was ok that i wrote to u :)"

Do young men just troll MySpace and email every woman they see???

The curse of love

Well I was told today by a 24-year-old that I certainly am a "cougar."

I hate that term of course - it means a woman in her 30s-40s who likes 20-something guys. I hate it because a 30-40-something guy who is into 20-something women is called... "a guy."

But more, I hate the fact that I am so hung up on love & affection. It's so much easier if you are just about the physical.

It's a curse.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Becoming Jane

Well I am swamped with Janes! I put out a casting call for my 2009 production of JANE EYRE and have gotten over 300 submissions so far. Mostly young women wanting to be Jane or Blanche/crazy wife/etc. Which only makes me kick myself once again for my casting choices in the past, made on the basis of convenience and familiarity. Why do I always have to learn everything the hard way?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Room is in the house

Wow, somebody made a rap song tribute to The Room. It is so funny!

Watch them rehearsing! Tommy Wiseau actually rehearsed this!

Oh no - midnight showing at the Village East on April 24! - this is the new Rocky Horror.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Room


This weekend my daughter turned me onto the. worst. movie. ever, "The Room."

Just a tiny little clip demonstrates how amazingly bad it is.

More about the film on Wikipedia

Monday, April 13, 2009

The MIghty Krug-Man strikes again

Beyond that, Republicans have become embarrassing to watch. And it doesn’t feel right to make fun of crazy people. Better, perhaps, to focus on the real policy debates, which are all among Democrats.

more here

Saturday, April 11, 2009

sonnet stats

Sonnet statistics:

Sonnet cycles: 6

* Sonnets in G
* Bitterest Bliss & Gregorian Chants
* Secret Sonnets
* NY Sonnets
* Goddam Sonnets
* Poetry Month Sonnets

Total Sonnets: 50

* Sonnets in G - 10
* Bitterest Bliss & Gregorian Chants - 6
* Secret Sonnets - 14
* NY Sonnets - 5
* Goddam Sonnets - 10
* Poetry Month Sonnets - 5 (so far)

more sonnet stuff soon...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I gotta get me a new ISP!

Damn that was painful - 11 hours with Heavens to Mergatroyd and NYCPlaywrights offline thanks to those bungling idiots at

And I hope they read this!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The dread Daphne Merkin strikes again!

She's even a bigger jerk than I realized!

Late last month, the New York Times published an op-ed by Daphne Merkin, a contributing writer to the Times Magazine, on the Bernie Madoff mess. The curious premise of the piece seemed to be that Madoff's "victims" (the quote marks are Merkin's) aren't really blameless, since "no one was holding a gun to anyone's head, saying sign up with Mr. Madoff or else."

The argument seemed tendentious at best -- but there was a bigger problem. As numerous bloggers quickly pointed out, Merkin's parenthetical disclosure -- "I did not know Mr. Madoff nor did I invest with his firm, but have a sibling who did business with him" -- didn't come anywhere close to fully informing readers about her personal tie to the case.

That sibling is Ezra Merkin, the financier and former chairman of GMAC, who was the second-largest institutional investor in Madoff's funds, losing billions of other people's money. In a civil suit filed this week by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Ezra Merkin, who collected over $40 million from Madoff's funds, was charged with "betraying hundreds of investors" by lying to them about how much of their money he had invested with Madoff, and by failing to disclose conflicts of interest.


Monday, April 06, 2009

African Queen

Even though it stars "old people" - Bogart was 51 and Hepburn was 44 when it was made - The African Queen is one of the most romantic movies of all time.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Historic Pear Watercolors

You say you've looked high and low and you just cannot find a web site that displays watercolor paintings of a multitude of pear varieties painted between the 1890s and the 1930s?

Despair no more!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Trouble with Jesus: Dramaturgy & the Prince of Peace

I have nothing against writing plays about Jesus, I'm just saying they won't work, unless the play is all about Jesus. It can't be about human stuff. Unless your Jesus is the non-god version. But that leads to other problems.

If you have a play with a god in it, it changes things. Just ask the Greeks - they used to have their plays end with the deus ex machina (God in a machine) - they actually had an actor in a contraption to make them look god-like. The god would make everything come out alright in the end. Nowadays deus ex machina is not considered a satisfying method of ending a play. Although even Shakespeare pulled that one, in As You Like It. But Shakespeare always gets some slack of which contemporary writers are not cut.

Lately my writers group has been plagued by plays about prostitutes and plays containing Jesus. I have problems with the prostitute plays too but that's another essay.

The authors of the Jesus plays insist on writing what they consider realistic stories about humans that just happen to have Jesus in it. This flat out does not work, because even though many of the writers are not devout Christians, their view of Jesus comes directly from the Bible. And the Bible considers Jesus a god. That throws everything off. That's like writing a kitchen-sink drama and one of the characters reveals that the wise teacher in her school is in fact Superman. There is no way that the play cannot become about Superman. Ain't nobody care about yo kitchen sink when Kal-El from Krypton is in town. (Kal and Jesus were both sent to Earth by their fathers - did you ever notice that? For an even better connection between God and superheroes, see Tom the Dancing Bug's God-Man series.

The Trouble with Jesus essay continued here